Monday, October 31, 2011

What's In A Name

There are many names.  So many.  Too many.  It can be hard for me to find something to watch on TV despite there being hundreds of channels.  Just the thought of picking a name for a baby, amongst the infinite choices, feels stressful, overwhelming and perhaps impossible.

In the hunt for the perfect name, where does one start?  Back in April, I dedicated an entire post to different methods for choosing a baby name (here).  One of those methods was choosing a name based on its meaning.  While there may be an infinite number of names, there are only about a dozen names that mean generous and a half dozen that mean sublime.  By searching for the meaning instead of the name, the choices are greatly narrowed.

What characteristics do you wish for your future child?  Brainstorm your favorite words and your most sought after traits.  Get creative.  Use a thesaurus.  Websites like and allow you to search names by their meaning.  Perhaps a "strong" and "happy" boy?  Or, a "wise" and "joyful" girl?  Maybe you want a unisex name that means friendship for your gender-unknown-baby-to-be?

"Healthy" boy names - Ken, Valentine, Valerian
"Happy" boy names - Asher, Caius, Faine, Felix, Gauis, Said, Tate

"Wise" girl names - Athena, Bena, Safe, Sophronia, Ulima
"Joyful" girl names - Alizah, Joy, Merry, Rinah

Unisex "Friendship" names - Achava, Drury, Icnoyotl, Mitali, 

Celebrities are famously choosing their children's names based on meaning.  Pink and Carey Hart named their daughter Willow Sage because willow means flexible and sage means cleansed.  Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban's second daughter, Faith Margaret, was named for the faith they kept while awaiting her arrival by surrogate.  Natalie Portman named her son Aleph, the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet, which means leader.

While I'm not a proponent of us non-celebrity civilians modeling our lives after the stars of Hollywood, I think this trend is worth considering.  And, more importantly, it's a trend that narrows down the overwhelming number of choices.  There are about a bazillion names that start with "A", but only a half billion names that start with "A" and mean beautiful.

What other stories behind the celebrity baby name have you heard?  Any friends or family members that chose a name based on its meaning?


Chrissy said...

Oh man. I had so many names that I loved. My husband only liked the name Rocket. I had a list of characteristics of a name I thought were important...and all he liked was Rocket. For our baby girl. One night I came across the name Quinn (which never made my list due to the rules I thought I wanted to follow), repeated it to my husband and he said he liked it. At that moment, I declared we were DONE with the name conversation and named her Quinn.

So the story is, her father wanted to name her Rocket and I saved her with the name Quinn. I actually wanted to have three names picked out and name her after she was born. I'm just glad I thought of something other than Rocket that my husband would approve. I don't think I'm asking him for the next one. It's true that only the mom signs the social security paper work.

Mother of Pearl said...

Don't forget that the last name factors in to the first name choice. e.g. if your last name is Stine, don't name your son Franklin, for obvious reasons, but also because it will mean "free mug of beer."